Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an extremely productive
marine area off the west coast of United States in northern California, just north of the Gulf
of the Farallones. With its southern-most boundary located 42 miles north of San Francisco, the
sanctuary is entirely offshore, with the eastern boundary six miles from shore and the western
boundary 30 miles offshore. In total, the sanctuary protects an area of 529 square miles.
The centerpiece of the sanctuary is Cordell Bank, a four-and-a-half mile by nine-and-a-half
mile rocky undersea feature located 22 miles west of the Point Reyes headlands. The bank sits at
the edge of the continental shelf and rises abruptly from the soft sediments of the shelf to within
115 feet of the ocean surface.
The combination of ocean conditions and undersea topography creates a rich and diverse marine
community in the sanctuary. The prevailing California Current flows southward along the coast,
and the annual upwelling of nutrient-rich deep ocean water supports the sanctuary's rich biological
community of fishes, invertebrates,